By Henrylito D. Tacio
Waling-waling “is one of the finest orchid species endemic to the Philippines, desired by orchid growers and breeders alike for its showy and attractive flowers and ability to impart its vigor and floral characteristics to its progeny,” wrote Dr. Helen Valmayor in her book, Orchidiana Philippiniana.
“The flowers are flat, to eight centimeters across; the sepals and petals are obviate, bluish pink, with buff-yellow stain, and dull-crimson reticulations on the lateral sepals; the lip is small and concave, purple-red at base, strongly recurved and brownish purple at apex; with three prominent keels.”
That is how the book, A Pictorial Cyclopedia of Philippine Ornamental Plants, described the exotic waling-waling, known in the science world before as Vanda sanderiana.
Notes Jose Mari M. Lacandula, who used to write an ornamental column for a national daily: “For its sheer magnificence, the waling-waling was thought by various scholars to be a separate genus altogether, but is now regarded as Vanda subgenus called Euanthe by Christensen in 1993. This sub-grouping was promoted by the conspicuous absence of a saccate spur appendage at the base of the lip sidelobes, giving prominence to a cleft impression at its center, which is typical in all true Vandas.”
The waling-waling, named in “allusion to a month in flight,” was discovered on Mindanao in 1882. It used to grow on tree trunks in the rainforests of Davao, Sultan Kudarat and other parts of the island. It is worshipped as diwata (fairy) by the native Bagobos.
“The Waling-waling blooms best from July to October each year, and its very fertile because it easily propagates, and a cluster of waling-waling in full bloom is a very spectacular sight,” Charita Puentespina, owner of the Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants, Inc. in Davao City.
Prices for Waling-waling with a single bloom is from P600 up but a whole cluster of waling-waling in bloom could command a market price ranging from P10,000 to P50,000, and even more. — ###